Girls Against God: A Novel (Paperback)

Girls Against God: A Novel By Jenny Hval Cover Image

Girls Against God: A Novel (Paperback)


A genre-warping, time-travelling horror novel-slash-feminist manifesto for fans of Clarice Lispector and Jeanette Winterson.

Welcome to 1990s Norway. White picket fences run in neat rows and Christian conservatism runs deep. But as the Artist considers her work, things start stirring themselves up. In a corner of Oslo a coven of witches begin cooking up some curses. A time-travelling Edvard Munch arrives in town to join a death metal band, closely pursued by the teenaged subject of his painting Puberty, who has murder on her mind. Meanwhile, out deep in the forest, a group of school girls get very lost and things get very strange. And awful things happen in aspic.

Jenny Hval's latest novel is a radical fusion of queer feminist theory and experimental horror, and a unique treatise on magic, writing and art.

"Strange and lyrical. Hval’s writing is surreal and rich with the grotesque banalities of human existence." —Publishers Weekly

"The themes of alienation, queerness, and the unsettling nature of desire align Hval with modern mainstays like Chris Kraus, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Maggie Nelson." —Pitchfork
Norwegian writer and musician Jenny Hval has honed an intellectual and uncompromising view of politics and sexuality in her prose as well as in records that include Blood Bitch; Apocalypse, Girl; and Innocence Is Kinky. Her debut novel, Paradise Rot, was published to acclaim in 2018.
Product Details ISBN: 9781788738958
ISBN-10: 1788738950
Publisher: Verso Fiction
Publication Date: October 6th, 2020
Pages: 240
Language: English
"This genre-bending novel from a self-described gloomy child queen blends feminism and the occult with a touch of time-travel."
Boston Globe

"An incendiary genre-bending novel. Throughout, Hval employs a dirge-like repetition of themes (feminist rage prominent among them), which enlivens her witchy visions and sets the stage for a reincarnated Edvard Munch, on the run from the vengeful subject of his painting Puberty. Hval's fascinating exploration is not for the faint of heart, but those who like it dark will find this right up their alley."
Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“[Girls Against God] is part fever dream, part manifesto, and part nostalgic reminiscing, with a hefty dose of feminist and queer theory for good measure … Chaotic yet ordered, Hval dives deeply into the process of self-discovery. [Her] language is visceral and haunting, corporal and carnal.”
—Carolyn Ciesla, Booklist

“This genre-bending novel from a self-described gloomy child queen blends feminism and the occult with a touch of time travel.”
—Joshunda Sanders, Boston Globe

“The atmosphere of Girls against God is on its surface bleak and unforgiving and yet beneath that impression there is a second story about the strength and solidarity of despised women.”
—David Renton, Morning Star

“[In] Girls Against God, Hval plunges up to her elbows in the thick, black, chthonic goo of rebellion and angst, through the quintessentially Scandinavian medium of black metal. The black-metal scene has historically been extremely sexist, but Hval reclaims it for the hateful, nihilistic teenage girls of the world with a decades-spanning tale of cinematic terrorism, political witchcraft, and satanic noise.”
AV Club

“What begins with dressing as a goth and cursing at school morphs into witches’ covens and fantastic demonic, cannibalistic banquets. Along the way Hval segues into the role of language (Norwegian, but also English) as a tool of both suppression and liberation, and the role of digital technology in the same.”
—Mark Rappolt, ArtReview

“Hval is one of the few musicians to branch out into the world of literary fiction. For Hval, it is a sideline that makes total sense, working as an extension of her atmospheric sound and descriptive, inquisitive lyrics.”
—Leonie Cooper, Guardian

“It is Hval’s unflinching attitude to mixing genres that has brought both her essays and her bewitching, otherworldly music to critical acclaim … Hval is best in her moments of dark humour and in her writing on femininity.”
—Baya Simons, Financial Times

“Ambitious … [Girls Against God] has much of interest to say about the loneliness and pleasure of adolescent blasphemy, with totems of patriarchal Norwegian authority such as Knut Hamsun, Henrik Ibsen, Edvard Munch, and the Lutheran church singled out in the narrator’s crosshairs.”
—George MacBeth, Asymptote Journal

“Anti-bourgeois and feminist, soaked in conviction and rage.”
—Cal Revely-Calder, Telegraph

“Strange and seductive and challenging and, at times, very funny … a reminder that musician-turned-author Hval, is one of the most intriguing, provocative artists around at the moment.”
—Teddy Jamieson, Herald

Girls Against God covers every angsty young woman’s favourite subjects. Witchcraft, heavy metal, viscera, and hatred. It’s a book in the grand tradition of Kathy Acker and women surrealists everywhere, dancing through space and time into different dimensions.”
—India Lewis, The Arts Desk

“An excellent, bewitching read. Jenny Hval’s musical ability makes her a natural novelist—her writing often feeling like a blend of lyrics and essays. Girls Against God is a terrifying, striking fusion of the occult and female repression. “
—Laura Mehers, Indiependent

“In Girls Against God, Hval challenges the form and conventions of the novel once again: a vivid, seething voice narrates a series of apocalyptic events cut together with food fights, black metal shows, black magic, and surreal, witchy rituals.”
—Alexandra Kleeman, Lit Hub

“Hval, who is known for using body imagery to express political ideas about art, depicts cultish rituals to subvert what she sees as ‘the restrictive framework of our daily lives.’”
New Yorker

Girls Against God is compelling, surprising, and frequently inspiring … laced throughout with powerful urban imagery and striking turns of phrase.”
—Andrea Tallarita, PopMatters

“Truly transgressive.”
—Terri-Jane Dow, Severine

“[Girls Against God] is a must-read for anyone looking for a mystifying, genre-bending read.”
—Hannah May-Powers, Tulane Hullabaloo

“Riveting … Like the French philosopher Luce Irigaray, [Hval] explores ideas of what a feminist or radical language would sound like.”
—Sukhdev Sandhu, Guardian

“Hval is steeped in the traditions of autofiction and the theoretical novel … The plot aspires toward an ‘escape route from structure and rhetoric,’ and makes room for thrilling observations on art, magic, and rebirth.”
—Jenn Pelly, Pitchfork (“Favorite Music Books of 2020”)

“If Girls Against God were an artwork, it would be a Munch—raw, dark and seething.”
—Chloë Ashby, Times Literary Supplement

“Readers drawn to more experimental literature will feel strangely at home in Jenny Hval’s novel. For all of Girls Against God’s baffling imagery and cryptic dialogue, the narrator registers as an individual longing for an existence outside the binary of light and dark, good and evil; a voice oppressed by a lifetime of being told it must be saved because it is lost, one that sees in the archetype of the witch not a heretic or a deviant but something more elemental: someone who is free.”
—Zack Ravas, Zyzzyva

“[Hval] pries into black metal’s past to present an alternative, radical, and genuinely liberating trajectory for black metal to exist as a dissident art form.”
—William Peel, Overland

“Hval’s writing embraces finding new ways to express thought patterns, experiences, and stories—and encourages people to let go of logic rather than look for the familiar markers of institutionally accepted creative writing.”
Nathania Gilson, Hazlitt

“To say that Jenny Hval has an impressive creative range is an understatement … Girls Against God is ambitious, with a plot that blends time travel, black metal, witchcraft, and film theory.”
Tobias Carroll, Tor

“Realism blends with the surreal in this beautifully blunt, utterly unique novel. I don’t know how Hval combines so many disparate elements, but it’s a triumph. Like a seamless blending of Virginie Despentes, Leonora Carrington, and Rikki Ducornet while being completely Hval. Maybe we should call it a Hvalution.”
—Jeff VanderMeer

“Thought-provoking and furiously original, Girls Against God is a subversive manifesto on the power of music, meaning-making, counterculture and rebelling against the horrific banality of the everyday.”
—Sharlene Teo